A simple request for vendor websites

June 17, 2008

Dear vendor websites, I have a simple request for you, or more specifically for your search people: there should be a search box where I can plug in either a product name or a part number, and the first thing that comes up should be that product's or part's webpage. This should work even for parts that you don't normally sell separately, and it definitely should work for the product codes that you put on your boxes. In specific, I should be able to take a mysterious box from you (perhaps containing rack rails), punch its cryptic code into your website, and find out exactly what it is and what it goes with.

(I do not mind if this is an advanced search option, just as long as there is an obvious path to it from basic search. But it really should be part of your basic search, because it's not going to be often that people enter a product name or part number and want something other than the product's page.)

Doing this sort of a smart search engine is one of the few ways that you can do a better job of search than Google can, because you have domain specific knowledge. Conversely, if you cannot manage to do this you might as well outsource your entire website searching to Google anyways, because your search technology and your search interface are both likely to be worse.

(If you must override Google's results for specific queries, there are ways to do that while still using Google for most everything. But if you are overriding queries to start with, you can perfectly well do this too.)

Unfortunately I do not expect the current depressingly bad situation with vendor website search to get better any time soon; vendors that actually do a good job of this are, to put it one way, extremely uncommon.

(This entry is brought to you in part by the fact that we turn out to have quite a lot of female to female DB9 null modem cables, because Sun gives you one with each X2100 M2. They just don't tell you what the cryptic connector is, so in the end I had to use a pair of paperclips and a multimeter to find out.)

Written on 17 June 2008.
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Last modified: Tue Jun 17 23:36:02 2008
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